Mentoring: Relationships Require Work

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Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Hi, All! We’re absolutely delighted to support our dear sister in Christ, Voices Against the Grain supporter and my Regent University School of Government classmate, Barbara Crymes West, in the release of her new book, Every Bump Counts: How Everyday Encounters & Relationships Can Make Eternal Impact. In her book, Barbara talks about how God is in the “everydayness” of our lives whether we realize it or not. When our hearts are aligned with His, we are a vital part of the Great Commission and showing others the love of Christ. We’ve ordered her book and look forward to reading it! We also have a copy we’d be happy to gift you (please provide your address where to mail it) if you’re interested. In the meantime, please read her article she’s shared with us on mentoring, a work near to my heart.

Thank you, love and blessings,




Barbara Crymes West, Relationships Expert, Voices Against the Grain Guest Writer

Relationships don’t create themselves. They take work and commitment. Investment is essential to have a healthy and effective relationship. Most require sacrifice to grow.


Dallas Willard, in his work entitled, The Divine Conspiracy, offers the following:

How beautiful it is to see relationships in which asking and receiving are a joyful and loving way of life. Often we see those who cherish one another, each seriously or playfully trying to out give the other. That is how relationships should be (Williard, 234).

The key here is reciprocity. Asking and receiving, giving and taking. Of course, that seems elementary because it is so basic. But in the busyness of life, we sometimes forget that relationships don’t just happen. Relationships require commitment and investment.


Investing in others is truly valuable and necessary. We can’t expect a relationship to flourish and grow without it. We must invest time and concern while learning about the other person. In the process we will find common ground; sometimes more and sometimes less. All relationships are not the same.

Biblically speaking this is true as well. God commands us to love our neighbor (Matthew 22:39). All relationships will not yield the intensity or closeness that others do. Although He loved all of His disciples, the Bible refers to John as “the one Jesus loved” (John 13:23). The good news is that when we make a significant investment in others, really get to know their hearts and minds, we are rewarded with a relationship that will give us meaning.

In the community of Christ, our relationships are very important as we all strive to fulfill our commission in Christ. As we support each other, with our feet planted squarely in the foundation of Jesus and Him crucified, we are enabled and supported to fulfill our calling, both individually and as a part of the whole. Relationships enable us to be who God has called us to be. It begins with our relationship with Him. He makes the difference.

The Good Old Days

If we look at our population of children today, the picture is far different than it was when I was growing up. And no we didn’t drive covered wagons. I felt safe in my neighborhood. My friends and I could walk a mile to the community pool and swim all day and walk home again with a mere, “Mom, we’re going to the pool. See you this afternoon.” We had no cell phones and crime rarely touched our lives. When I look back on local tragedies that were inscribed in my mind and heart, the loss of a home to fire, in which a fellow student lived, comes to mind.

Another involved a friend being struck by a car while in the crosswalk. This one actually is bigger in my memory because this girl lost a leg and the community rallied to contribute to her family through a McTake Over, to benefit her expenses. The point is that as children, we were rarely confronted with the crimes we see today that has become all too commonplace in our children’s lives, communities, and neighborhoods. Drive-by shootings and school shootings did not have a place in the lives of families back then.

Today, we have an abundance of broken homes, absent parents, and footloose kids. Most often, through no fault of their own, our kids find themselves wandering through life without adequate direction, nurturing, or guidance. Can we make a difference in the children’s lives? And if so, how? With limited funding streams and resources stretched thin everywhere, we need to tackle these issues one child at a time.


Mentoring has become a widely accepted practice, although many of us don’t have mentors and more of us aren’t mentors, or at least in an official sense. However, I would offer that we all lead someone and therefore we are in effect, leaders or mentors. Neither can be accomplished without relationship, investment, and reciprocity.

Mentoring is one way in which each of us can play a part. Becoming active in an organization that focuses on mentoring is one way. Could we each give to such an organization in some way? I think so. There are myriad ways to be involved. In whichever way you choose to do your part, whether through a donation of time, talent, or financial gifts, there is a place for you. On a more personal level, we can each pray for these children that are “wandering.”

Take a moment to consider any young people that you encounter in your daily movement who could use a smile, a hug, a kind word, or paper for their binder. Build a relationship with someone that has always been around but is on the fringes of your life. Bring them closer and make them feel cared for.




We must invest. Sometimes investment is easy and sometimes not so easy. The investment will likely involve sacrifice on our parts but OH the rewards. We have to nurture and build relationships with those we care about. Simple caring and sharing; conversation, can make all the difference in who we are, and in who they will become.

God has taught me through such a simple concept as “making time,” that the principles are the same regardless of who we are pursuing a relationship with. We must invest our time and practice the reciprocity that creates those terrific bonds of the heart that God ordained. It’s all about relationships.

Please visit to read more of Barbara’s blogs and to purchase her book about relationships, Every Bump Counts.

Barbara Crymes West holds a Master’s Degree from Regent University in Organizational Leadership, with a concentration in Not-for-Profit and Faith-Based Organizations Management. During her studies, she discovered that “relationships” are a common and recurring thread. With this theme in mind Barbara takes her readers on a journey that finds its foundation in Christ, and is applicable whether we are at home or on the job. Barbara resides in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and family.








I Quit: Discerning Your Seasons

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Have you ever stayed in something longer than you should have? I have. Whether it be a career/job, relationship, volunteering or other, there are roles and spaces we occupy that can become so routine that we ignore the precious signals indicating a season change. The season change prompts us to put to bed old things so God can bring us into the new. Thus, it is important to discern when God is bringing you into a new season so you have room to transition, prepare and embrace for what is being birthed in your life. To several things you will likely need to say, “I quit” or “I resign” or “I’m moving on.”

Since early spring 2015, I’ve been in a gradual transition to enter God’s new season for me. A 10-year public relations professional,  a volunteer with a few ministries and organizations, there are places, roles and titles as of late from which I’ve resigned or have reduced my time expended toward. These items are not bad. God has been shaping me for some time, developing me for the new.


Dear Sirs I Quit

Part of this new path (which has also meant enrollment in grad school) is the burden God has placed upon my heart to mentor at-risk youth here in Washington, D.C. Not simply sharing an encouraging word and passing them by—but true in-the-trenches work that will require my one-on-one time, extending others greater compassion and patience when their lifestyles conflict with mine. This new season aligns with our Voices Against the Grain ministry objectives to “bring clarity and restoration to deception, to educate and equip, to encourage and to love in truth.” Too often we see the moral decay overtake our communities and watch it play out day after day, night after night on our local news stations. We may not know what to do because the issues seem far beyond solving. We may also hope that if it gets intolerable enough, someone will fix it so that we can continue our lives comfortably and uninterrupted. I wonder how many people who could help have subcontracted their abilities and expertise hoping someone else will step in—all to preserve their comfort?

Should you choose to not subcontract your calling to someone else in order to preserve your comfort, and should you choose to bed the old and embrace your new season:

Be advised: God will stretch you. You will be placed in unfamiliar spaces. You will need to fully rely on God.

Know that: God has already equipped, predestined and qualified you for this. Others may be confused and intimidated by your transition. Fact is, God has always been preparing to reveal you and your calling at the appointed time. God will also bring to you the people, provision and other resources to help you carry out your new season.

The joy: When you put to bed the old, you’ll discover that God has so much more in store for you—different and greater than you imagined!

Ecclesiastes 3 tells us that there is a “time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven,” “a time to plant and a time to uproot” reads verse 1. Some seasons are about planting while other seasons are designed to uproot old routines so that the “new” can be planted and take root.

Are you ready to quit the old so you can embrace the new?


Nicole D. Hayes is the founder of Voices Against the Grain, a bold teaching ministry launched in May 2013. Nicole’s purpose in creating Voices Against the Grain is to be light in darkness, to boldly instruct truth amid confusion so as to bring clarity and restoration.

Learn more about Nicole D. Hayes here.